The City of Phoenix Head Start

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A Valuable Connection: Phoenix Head Start Improves Services via Region 9 Head Start Partners

With a $41.8 million budget and a staff of more than 500, the City of Phoenix Head Start Birth to Five Program has a massive need for professional staff development. The Phoenix Head Start serves more than 4,000 families in sprawling Maricopa County, Arizona. “Bringing professional development to our staff is a huge undertaking,” said Cadie Chavez, professional development specialist. That’s where the Region 9 Head Start Association plays an important role in supporting the Phoenix program. “We were able to connect our program with a learning management system through the Region 9 HSA,” said Chavez, who has been with the agency for more than 20 years and is herself a Head Start alumni. “I live it and breathe it and can’t see doing anything different!”

Alma Quintana

Chavez’s colleague, Alma Quintana, who is the Quality Assurance Manager, explained that an ongoing revamping of the organization’s professional development program came at the same time that the Region 9 HSA was working to develop an LMS (learning management system). Conversations with the Region 9 offices began over the Phoenix program’s needs in professional training. Then, staff members from Phoenix actually joined the R9HSA’s Professional Development committee.

“Once Region 9 found and partnered with a learning management system, we jumped on board,” Quintana said. “The legwork that needed to be done and that we were in the process of doing ourselves had already been done!”  What’s more, Quintana said that belonging to the committee allowed Phoenix to be in the lead of providing input for what their staff wanted professional development to look like. Many of the Phoenix staff are taking advantage of Region 9’s training program to meet continuing education requirements.

Region 9’s LMS offers more 300 courses, and staff can study online at any time and on any device. Also supporting Phoenix’s professional development efforts is the Region 9 HSA’s Professional Development Network. Quintana explained, “They created a platform through Zoom where we can share information and strategies. We see how others implement ideas and collaborate. We have met twice already and are doing a book study right now. It’s nice because all of the people are in the same specialty area.” “Everyone on the network call shares trends, needs, strengths,” Chavez added. “So it’s great to have Region 9 (looking out for us) to meet those needs.”

Cadie Chavez

Both Chavez and Quintana also credit the Region 9 Head Start Association with developing educational training focused on children ages birth to three through the First 1,000 Days! Early Head Start Conference. This conference was launched in 2019 and went virtual and online in 2020. “Previously, there wasn’t a whole lot of content available, and we have a fairly new program,” Chavez explained, noting Phoenix Head Start was trying to provide professional development specifically focused on our home visiting staff and in 2020, the conference offered specific breakout

Both Chavez and Quintana also applaud the R9HSA’s work on keeping people up to date about the pandemic and specifically the Covid-19 vaccine. “Having doctors available to provide seminars for family and staff has helped to decrease worries and anxieties about the pandemic,” Chavez said. “Region 9 has done a really good job.”


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